There is a program on television that has to do with women being pregnant who didn’t know they were.
I find that so amazing. I would say I find it hard to believe, but that would not be accurate. “Amazing” is a better adjective to describe how this phenomenon strikes me.
Maybe it’s because I so knew I was pregnant. My clothes got tight. I couldn’t wear my “cute” suits or slacks. I didn’t get stretch marks but my breasts sure got bigger. My hair grew. My skin got clearer. There were so many foods I could not eat and so many aromas that made me sick. I craved dumb things, like saurkraut. If I were not pregnant, I would have known something was wrong.
But there is something that seems equally impossible, something I have found it hard to explain.
For a long time, I didn’t know my name.
I mean, I knew my name but I didn’t know who I was. I had attached myself, like Peter Pan’s shadow, to a title, and to someone whom I adored and highly respected. I spent years trying to be another person. I spent years ignoring my own spirit. It seems impossible, but I just did not know my name.
I think it must be easy to fall into the trap of admiring someone to the detriment of your own being. I think of the people who adore celebrities, and spend hours trying to imitate them, rather than putting that energy into finding out who they are and what their voice is. The time spent trying to attach oneself to someone else becomes a lifestyle, and a frustrating one at that. In the meantime, the real tragedy is that the person doing the imitating is losing valuable hours of being oneself.
Of course, when you are attached to someone else, or you are spending your time trying to attach to someone else, you don’t really know it. You are lucky, I think, if you have an “aha!” moment, a “what the hell?” moment, when you finally realize that you are wasting valuble time. The people around you can see that something is amiss, though they might not be able to identify it. But when you finally have your “aha” moment, the people around you sigh a sigh of relief. Whatever “it” was that was keeping you from being your total self as they have seen you has gone. It is a moment for deep thanksgiving.
My “idol” was a colleague, a mentor, who I thought (and still think) was the most brilliant person in the world. I modeled my work on what he did and how he did it. But my efforts never even came close to what he had accomplished. In fact, I spent years in abject frustration, not understanding why what I was doing was not working.
It was after a lot of praying and crying, self-examination, anger at myself and probably the world, and a lot of intentional silence so I could “hear” what I needed to hear did it hit me. I was not put here to imitate my mentor. I was put here to contribute myown gifts and build my own model based on where I was and the people with whom I was working. The model I had put in place was his model, not the model God wanted for where I was.
But back to this name thing. Yes, it was about my work, but it was also about me. During graduate school and after, I worked with my mentor, and it was under his tutelage and in his world that I felt love for the first time. Love, admiration, affirmation … all of the above. It was a gift. I felt it not only from him but from the work I did while I was with him. It was a sweet change from what I had felt my whole life. So, I latched onto the title I had, and forgot my name.
I was an object to myself.
It was when I began to break away emotionally from that loving environment which had so nurtured me that I realized that my own first name sounded strange to me. When I opened myself up to my own possibilities I began to hear people call my name. Who was that? Oh! It was me! I was a person,a unique person. I had forgotten…
As I was able to more and more hear my name, some of the crusted anger, frustration, confusion and depression began to break away, in pieces, from my spirit. Whoa. This being enveloped like a mummy in self-ignorance had really sapped me. I didn’t realize how weighed down I had been with the feeling of frustration and failure until the pieces began to break away. As I got lighter and lighter, my vision began to clear up. I could see things I had not seen before. I realized that I had to break away from some things I had attached myself to, because in those attachments I was still yearning to be a shadow.
People do not respect shadows. They cannot relate to them.
Oh, there’s more, but it’s the hearing of my name, like it was new, that this piece is all about. My not knowing my name was my own way of objectifying myself. It was not a good way to live or to try to work.
I do not know how many people have objectified themselves. I hope there are few, because it is a dastardly way to live. Every time I hear my name now, it’s like a new experience. It seems impossible but that has been my reality.
That’s a candid observation.